Royal Botanical Gardens by Rosalie Villanueva

It doesn’t even seem like very long ago that I was shedding my spring coat to make way for the summer heat.

In late June, some of my dearest flower friends and I went to the Royal Botanical Gardens on a Saturday that (miracle of miracles) we all had off at the same time- truly incredible when your best friends are all florists in the wedding industry!

While the bearded irises were mostly done at that point, we managed to catch some peonies in what seemed to be an unusually long season for them, and of course we were happy to enjoy the roses and the dogwood as well.

Now it seems to be all about the zinnias and the dahlias, which can only mean that the frost is not too far behind. But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy wearing a sweater again and looking at these pictures that feel like they were taken a lifetime ago.

Garden Party Flower Farm by Rosalie Villanueva

Earlier this summer I had the chance to visit Garden Party Flower Farm to pick my own flowers. Located in St. Agatha just outside of Kitchener, it was a nice little drive out from Toronto and a really cute way to spend an afternoon. Being out in the fields confirmed what I already knew to be true- being a flower farmer is a lot of work and I sure couldn’t do it (though I have a lot for respect for people who do).

I have gotten flowers from Garden Party before. I would normally pick them up at The Local Flower Collective in Toronto, a hub where floral designers can buy wholesale from local flower farmers. It was nice, however, to meet Theresa and see her farm. Knowing where your flowers come from and making connections with the growers has become increasingly important to me, in an effort to be more ecological as well as economical. It’s nice to know there are a lot of other options besides flying flowers in from Holland, or South America, or wherever, all the time.

Also, it’s just nice to spend time outdoors. As a result, I think I had Tom Petty’s Wildflowers stuck in my head for the rest of the afternoon.

A Wedding By the Lake by Rosalie Villanueva

It’s hard to believe that just over a month ago I attended my first wedding as both guest and floral designer. My dear friend and her beloved exchanged vows on the shores of Sparrow Lake. I was so lucky to not only be a part of Laura and Chris’ big day, but also because as a bride, Laura was so very relaxed and trusting (I’m guessing 15 years of friendship might have had something to do with this!) She told me the vibe she was going for and what colours she wanted to see, but also just encouraged me to do my thing. Dreams.

And so, I made a makeshift studio in the lodge’s main hall with a view overlooking the lake and an occasional chipmunk (or two, or three) to keep me company. It was a beautiful weekend. I hustled, I cried happy tears, and we celebrated and ended the night with dancing and a campfire. Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure?

Still Life Workshop by Rosalie Villanueva

To celebrate the arrival of spring, I took a workshop that combined two of my great loves- flowers + photography.

With acclaimed florist, writer, and grower Christin Geall demonstrating how to make artful arrangements, the attendees had a chance to create their own Dutch Masters style still life and have it photographed by the enormously talented Kristin Sjaarda. It felt so great to listen to a brief lesson on the Golden Age of Dutch painting and the language of flowers (it reminded me of my days at OCAD) and to cover the technical aspects involved with creating a dynamic still life photograph (again, reminded me of my days at OCAD). To say that I was geeking out and fan-girling would be an understatement.

It was a lovely day, and Mint Room Studios was the perfect backdrop for it all. I also need to mention that the props were not only beautiful but delicious as well- a tasty craft table spread that was so on the nose and truly impressive!

I walked away from the workshop not only with a bunch of beautiful images but with a sense of coming out of emotional hibernation. Winter was difficult and stayed for much too long, which I could also say about my hiatus from fine art photography. But it’s getting warmer outside, and inside I feel that passion being reignited. Possibilities (and more warm weather and flowers!) are ahead of me, and I’m so excited.

Zurich by Rosalie Villanueva

Zurich was like that girl in class I never knew I would be good friends with- I had always thought her interesting enough from afar but didn’t just how well we would get along, and how much I would really end up liking her.

Last summer I was lucky enough to get to know the city a little better by wandering the charming, colourful streets (oh hello Cabaret Voltaire), enjoying the fresh air, flowers, and the architecture, not to mention all those tasty treats from Sprüngli and Péclard.

As if that weren’t wonderful enough, I also got acquainted with Lausanne, Lucerne, and Geneva and some adorable Swiss towns- Thun, and Gruyeres. Much cheese was had. castles were visited, glaciers were hiked, and mountains were climbed (well, not exactly- it was a cog railway that took us to the top to enjoy views of the Matterhorn’s majestic peak).

Last but definitely not least there was Lauterbrunnen, which will always have a special place in my heart- the place where I literally took a giant leap and embarked on the biggest adventure of my life.

Miyajima by Rosalie Villanueva

A last minute and whirlwind trip to Japan last December took me to some truly incredible places and eating some of the best food. 

Naturally, I found myself spending an afternoon in the peaceful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden which was a nice escape from the fast paced buzz of Tokyo. Wandering the foggy streets of Kyoto's mysterious Gion district at night was also pretty magical and ended with one of the best meals I've ever had in my life in a beautiful Ryokan. Also, how could I forget the random Ikebana to be found in so many unexpected places? I've ever seen train stations so pretty.

There is so much of Japan that amazes me, and I could go on and on about how that trip really opened my eyes to a lot of new things. 

My absolute favourite place, though, was Miyajima. A little less than an hour away from Hiroshima, this day trip involved riding a ferry to visit Itsukushima Shrine (at both high and low tide!), snacking on momiji manju (little maple leaf shaped cakes), ridding a cable car to the top of the mountain, and petting the deer that casually wander the island. If that doesn't sound like a great way to spend the day, I'm not sure what does.

Montreal by Rosalie Villanueva

Two months ago, I decided to take the train to Montreal. I stayed for a few days in Mile End for some much needed Me time, which now seems like forever ago. I went to the Botanical Garden (of course), hiked up the mountain, and saw Taryn Simon's Paperwork and the Will of Capital.

Often, I have secretly thought of that city as my mistress, if Toronto is the one I come home to.

Lake Rosseau by Rosalie Villanueva

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to combine business with pleasure while working for Botany Floral Studio on a wedding in Muskoka. More lakeside weddings please!

Sosùa by Rosalie Villanueva

Spring is supposedly just around the corner but it's still cold, and this morning it was snowing. I will just have to look at these photos from the Sosùa to keep me warm in the meantime.

Allan Gardens by Rosalie Villanueva

Look at me, taking photos and blogging again while listening to Sufjan, like it's 2003.